Best iPad for Note-Taking With Stylus (Comparing All iPads)

Galati, Romania - October 16, 2014: Apple iPad Air Wi?Fi + Cellular displaying iOS 8 and iPad Mini with iOS 7.1 homescreen. iOS 8 operating system designed by Apple Inc. official output 16 October 2014. iPad is a tablet produced by Apple Inc
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When buying an iPad for note-taking with a stylus, you have several different options. The differences and importance of those differences can be unclear.

In general, the best iPad for note-taking with a stylus is the iPad (9th generation) or the iPad Air. Both are the ideal medium size for both note-taking comfort and portability.

The iPad (9th generation) is the least expensive model and has all the functionality needed. The iPad Air is the best premium option with almost all the same noticeable benefits of the power of the iPad Pro and is significantly less expensive.

Note: I am talking about the best iPad for note-taking with a stylus instead of typing notes. If you prefer to type your notes, I recommend using a laptop (my recommendation is a MacBook Air).

Let’s compare the iPads more in-depth and talk about the pros and cons of each.

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Comparing iPads for taking notes

All iPads offer the main benefits of taking notes with a stylus—they each allow you to have all your notes in one place, are compatible with note-taking apps, and allow you to use an Apple Pencil.

All the iPads also have plenty of storage. The iPads, iPad Air, and iPad mini offer 64 GB or 256 GB storage options. The iPad Pros offers 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, or 2 TB storage options.

Read more about How Much Storage Do I Need on My iPad for Note-Taking?Opens in a new tab.

The main differences between iPads are price, size, chip, and accessories compatibilities:

iPad miniiPad AiriPad Pro
(11 in)
iPad Pro (12.9 in)
Price (Wifi)$329$449$499$599$799$1099
Battery Up to 10 hours on WifiUp to 10 hours on WifiUp to 10 hours on WifiUp to 10 hours on WifiUp to 10 hours on WifiUp to 10 hours on Wifi
ChipA13 BionicA14 BionicA15 BionicApple M1Apple M2Apple M2
Pencil compatibility1st Apple Pencil1st Apple Pencil2nd Apple Pencil2nd Apple Pencil2nd Apple Pencil2nd Apple Pencil
Keyboard compatibility Smart KeyboardMagic Keyboard———Magic KeyboardMagic KeyboardMagic Keyboard
Information from Apple Education StoreOpens in a new tab.

Price: Cheapest iPad for note-taking

For most people, the price is going to be one of the biggest determining factors for which iPad is best for them. You need to determine your budget for buying an iPad.

The iPads have a huge range in price, with the iPad (9th generation) being $329 and iPad Pro 12.9 in. being $1099 (from the Apple Education Store).

The best iPads for the price are the iPad (9th generation) if you are fine with a more basic model or the iPad Air if you want a higher-end model.

I do not think the price of the iPad Pro 12.9 in. is worth it; I would not pay over a thousand dollars for an iPad. I would get a MacBook instead for that kind of money.

To save on the price of all models, use the student discount price you can find online at the Apple Education StoreOpens in a new tab. or in-store by showing your student ID.

Find out more about the best deals with our guide on Apple Student Discounts.Opens in a new tab.

Size: What size iPad is best for note-taking?

After you determine your budget, the next biggest step is deciding what size iPad you want.

The sizes range from the 8.3″ iPad mini to the 12.9″ iPad Pro, but the middle sizes are normally the best for note-taking.

The 10-inch or 11-inch iPads are the best for note-taking. They are the best combination of having enough space to comfortably take notes and also being easy to hold while taking notes and carrying around.

Factors to consider when deciding the best iPad size for you:

  • Portability: If you will be carrying it around, smaller is probably better. The 12.9″ iPad can be heavy, especially with a keyboard case.
  • Holding it: Do you lay your iPad down and write on it? Or do you hold it in one hand and write with the other? If you are going to be holding your iPad while writing, a smaller size is more comfortable.
  • Use: If you use split screen or the on-screen keyboard a lot, you may want the 12.9″ iPad Pro. To avoid split screen, you can take notes directly on the slides or PDF.
  • Paper size: You may prefer to pick a size similar to what size of paper you are used to writing on or prefer to write on. The 12.9″ is about the size of a sheet of paper, so it may feel more natural writing on that size. If you use a journal or A5 size paper comfortably, the iPad mini can be a good fit.
  • Devices: If you have another laptop or computer for school (which I strongly recommend), a smaller iPad is a good addition.

I have iPad 8th generation, which is 10.2,” and I think it is a good size to take notes on. Plus, I can comfortably hold it and carry it around.

Ultimately, the ideal size will be a personal preference. You can try it out by trying a friend’s iPad or going into Apple or Best Buy to see what you think of each size.


The different models come with different chips. The Apple M1 chip (on the iPad Air) and M2 chips on the iPad Pros are better, but they are more powerful than most users will ever need.

Honestly, all of them are more than sufficient for using in college and taking notes.

Accessories compatibility

I would not base my purchasing decision on the Apple Pencil or Keyboard, but some people have a strong preference for one over another.

Each model is compatible with an Apple Pencil. The iPads (9th and 10th generation) work with the Apple Pencil 1st generationOpens in a new tab., and the rest work with the Apple Pencil 2nd generationOpens in a new tab..

The 2nd generation Apple Pencil has several improvements, most notably that it wirelessly charges, so you do not need to plug the Pencil into your iPad’s charging port. Both the Pencil and iPad can charge at the same time.

Some people feel very strongly about the 2nd generation Apple Pencil over the 1st generation, but I think the 1st generation is fine. I have one, and it works great. I use it a lot and rarely have to charge it.

Note: iPad (10th generation) is a USB-C port instead of the Lightning port, so you will have to get a USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter. If you are going to buy a regular iPad, I would save yourself the trouble (and the extra money) and just buy the 9th generation instead of the 10th.

For keyboards, the iPad mini is not compatible with an Apple keyboard, the iPad (9th generation) is compatible with the Smart Keyboard, and the rest are compatible with the Magic Keyboard.

Let’s look at the pros and cons and who should get each model.

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I think that the traditional iPad is the best value model.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of the traditional iPad.

iPad pros:

  • The least expensive
  • Medium size
  • Offers all the functionality needed for college and note-taking

iPad cons:

  • Not compatible with Apple Pencil 2

Who should get the iPad: People who want an iPad that does what you need for the least amount of money.

I do not think that not being compatible with the Apple Pencil 2nd generation is a big con. I use the Apple Pencil 1st generation, and it works well.

Head over to Amazon to check out the iPad (9th generation)Opens in a new tab. and iPad (10th generation)Opens in a new tab..

iPad mini

The iPad mini is 8.3″ and $499 (with Apple Education pricing).

iPad mini pros:

  • Convenient to carry
  • Lightweight to hold
  • Apple Pencil 2 compatibility

iPad mini cons:

  • Less screen size to take notes
  • Not compatible with Apple Keyboard
  • It has a jelly scroll (half the device refreshes slower than the other half)

Who should get the iPad mini: People who prioritize portability and like taking notes in an A5-size journal.

I would strongly not recommend the iPad mini if you are planning to use your iPad as a laptop.

Is iPad mini good for note-taking?

The iPad mini is good for note-taking if the student likes to hold their iPad with one hand and write with the other and is used to writing in an A5-size journal. If the student prefers more space, the iPad mini would not be the best note-taking device.

Is the iPad mini too small for students?

At 8.3″, the iPad mini is a small screen. If it is too small for students depends on the student’s personal preference. It is convenient to hold one-handed and is about the size of an A5 journal, so it is not too small to take notes on. However, it is significantly smaller than all the other iPads and is too small for a split screen.

Head to Amazon to check out the iPad miniOpens in a new tab..

iPad Air

The iPad Air is almost as good as the iPad Pro and much less expensive. It is the better deal.

iPad Air pros:

  • Medium size
  • Powerful and capable of performing all the necessary tasks for college
  • Apple Pencil 2 compatibility

iPad Air cons:

  • Not as big or powerful as the iPad Pro

Who should get the iPad Air: People who want the best buy for both power/functionality and price.

Is iPad Air good for note-taking?

The iPad Air is great for note-taking. At 10.9″, it is the ideal size for note-taking and portability. It is powerful and high-quality and is compatible with the Apple Pencil 2nd generation and Magic Keyboard.

Go to Amazon to check out the iPad AirOpens in a new tab..

iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is the premium iPad option. It is the most powerful, biggest, and most expensive iPad model.

iPad Pro pros:

  • Large high-resolution display
  • Powerful hardware with the M2 chip
  • Larger storage options
  • Apple Pencil 2 compatibility

iPad Pro cons:

  • Expensive
  • Overkill for just note-taking

Who should get the iPad Pro: People who want the top-of-the-line iPad and have a larger budget. It is the ideal model if a larger screen or more storage are important to you.

Do you need an iPad Pro for note-taking?

An iPad Pro is an excellent note-taking device. It offers a large high-resolution display and powerful hardware. However, students do not need an iPad Pro for note-taking. Any iPad model will be more than sufficient for note-taking.

iPad Pro 11 vs. 12.9 for note-taking

The difference between the iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 is 1.9 inches and about $300.

The iPad Pro 11 is going to be more portable, but the iPad Pro 12.9 will be a bigger screen. Ultimately, which is more important is a personal preference.

Try them out at an Apple store or Best Buy to see which you prefer.

On Amazon, you can learn more about the iPad Pro 11Opens in a new tab. and iPad Pro 12.9Opens in a new tab..

Now that you know what factors to consider to decide on the best iPad for note-taking with a stylus, learn more about How to Take Better Notes in CollegeOpens in a new tab..

2 thoughts on “Best iPad for Note-Taking With Stylus (Comparing All iPads)

  1. Hey if you want to take notes for a cheap price, my recommendation is called “Pen and paper”

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